Disease modifying genes in cystic fibrosis: therapeutic option or one-way road?
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common genetic disease among Caucasians and is caused by mutations in the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. CF affects multiple organs but lung disease is the major determinant for morbidity and mortality. Many studies have focussed on the correlation between CFTR genotype and severity of disease. Since patients with identical CFTR mutations often show considerable variability in disease progression, genes other than CFTR are thought to have the potential to modify the course of lung disease in CF patients. Therefore, identification of CF-modifying genes has become the goal of several studies over the last 15 years. Pharmaceutical approaches for CF lung disease have been developed regardless of the underlying genetic defect and in general target symptoms such as airway obstruction and treatment of bacterial infection. Analysing the pathophysiological processes of modifiers may lead to the discovery of pathways involved in CF pathophysiology and possibly to the design of new therapeutics. The purpose of this review is not only to list potential CFTR modifier genes, but also to discuss new therapeutic strategies that could be derived from knowledge of these CF modifiers.
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